Things Lost to Time

We are not going to address the day of the week; we are just going to move forward. I am reading the book, Lost Charleston by our dear friend, J. Grahame Long. If you haven’t read any of his books, do. They are wonderful. Every single one. Grahame is the former chief curator for the Charleston Museum, and is now the Director of Museums for the Historic Charleston Foundation.

I love his book, Lost Charleston, because it shines a light on things missing, lost, or buried in Charleston, SC. Charleston has always prided herself on preserving her history, and she has done an admirable job doing so. Just walk around downtown (the peninsula) and you will see how true that is. From Charleston’s earliest days to the very recent past, history is everywhere. Ah, but. But, some has disappeared. If you go in search of the Quaker cemetery, or early graves at First (Scot’s) Presbyterian Church, or even some of the early cemeteries, you will not find them. Why? Because they have disappeared from view. Lost to the eye, but not to the knowledge of Charleston. You can find the different plats that show the city cemeteries, though they are under city buildings. You can find the marker for the Quaker cemetery on the fence side of the city parking garage on King Street. You can find the headstones in and around the sanctuary at First (Scot’s).

So many things end up lost to time. People, places, entire civilizations. They say that no one truly dies as long as there is one person to remember them, and that is true. The same with places. My mother and I are celebrating thirty years of genealogy work this May, and I can tell you that every person and place we have searched for and found lives in our memories. We have wandered as far away as Scotland to find ancestors, and were thrilled to discover their former homes, their current resting places. They are not forgotten.

I often wonder about the children who lived in days long gone. Some we have names for though they didn’t live to adulthood. I wonder even more about those who are lost to the ages because they lived only between the census years. I see some women in the census record who are marked with “mother of how many children” and “number of those children living”…and the numbers don’t match up. When I look back at the census before, none of those “missing” children are there, so I know that they were born and passed during the ten years between the census takings. My heart goes out to those children because they are truly lost.

It is important that we embrace our loved ones while we can. It is important to remember those who have gone before us. It is important to visit, to see places, to thinks of those who have gone before, to remember that life is fleeting, that places can be fleeting.

We must thank those who take time to find the people and places who have become lost. They are the heroes of this world. They search out what is no more to shine a light on it/them in the present. That is the gift they give to the world. So, thanks Grahame, for you book, Lost Charleston. The people and places in your book are no longer lost or forgotten. They live on in the memory of everyone who reads your book.

About wanderingamericanwriter

retired teacher, writer, wife, mother, dog lover, traveler - real and imagined places!
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